The suggestions that follow are simply that…suggestions. They are not comprehensive. They are not policy. These suggestions are based on anecdotal experience. Your results may vary!!! Can you tell I’ve worked with lawyers?
1) Your firm’s malpractice insurance may require a policy. They may even have one that you can use. If not, a qualified individual or attorney who is also insured against omissions should write that policy.
2) Know and follow the ABA and the applicable states’ Bar Rules and Codes of Professional Conduct as concerns commercial speech and client confidentiality.
3) Don’t give legal advice.
4) Go to privacy settings FIRST when signing on to a new service. Default settings are often WIDE OPEN.
5) Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at your law firm—when you post on the social Web.
6) When you discuss the law firm or law firm-related matters, write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the law firm. The firm’s media policy should apply.
7) Individuals are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, Wikis, or any other form of user-generated media. What is published will be public for a long time—protect your firm’s good reputation. Cache is a reality.
8) Content that is published to any website (blog) that is related to the work you do, or related to subjects associated with firm clients, partners or staff, should use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent my law firm’s positions, strategies or opinions.” Where and when possible also include the following: “The contents of this website are offered for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. A visit to this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney for individual advice regarding your individual situation.”
9) Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
10) Speak about the issues of law generally and factually.
11) Don’t criticize the judiciary in any way.
12) Don’t provide confidential or other proprietary information. Always secure permission to publish or report on conversations that bear the assumption of privacy or are internal to the law firm or its clients.
13) Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. Generally speaking, all references, where possible, must link back to the source.
14) Respect audiences. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace. Show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
15) Be aware of associations in online social networks. If identified as an employee or partner with the law firm, ensure the profile, connections, and related content is consistent with how you want to present yourself with colleagues and clients.
16) Don’t instigate fights. If you post inaccurate materials and learn of it, be the first to correct your own mistakes. If possible, do a strike out of the error, don’t delete it, and give credit to the individual that contributed the correct information.
17) Let your overall goal be one of adding value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective; the law firm’s brand is best represented by its people, what you publish may reflect on your law firm’s brand.
18) Do not use the firm logo without permission from the marketing department.
19) The best way to launch a new policy is to frame it with context. Educate everyone in your firm regarding your policy. Do a video presentation and require new employees to watch it.
20) Call Jayne at LawGravity.com, she can help you make this exercise painless.